Rapidly cover large areas with 2D Capture scans. 2D Capture is a planar scanning capability that captures imagery for orthomosaics and digital terrain models.

This mode supports traditional capture patterns, but with superior obstacle avoidance and the 3D Surface Engine for accurate localization even in GPS-denied environments. 2D Capture is best for wide, flat area mapping. 

Change operating modes

Before starting a scan, the drone must first reboot to enter the 3D Scan Mode. Skydio will remember your operating mode through power cycles, so you will only have to do this when switching between 3D Scan and other Flight Skills.

  • You must enter 3D Scan while on the ground and connected to the drone
Step 1 - Select Switch Mode CS_3DS_X2_media_UI_switch-mode1.png

Step 2 - Select 3D Scan and reboot

Skydio will automatically reboot. This should take about one minute.

After rebooting, Skydio will reconnect to your controller and mobile device.


Step 3 - Begin flight

After Skydio has finished entering 3D Scan, you are ready to fly!

  • Ensure your Logs Card has been formatted before starting a scan
  • If you have not yet done so, a notification will display in the app

[note] You must exit 3D Scan to regain access to Flight Skills. To exit, first land the drone. Navigate back to the FLY screen and select Use Skills. You also have the option to change Vehicle Modes in the Device Settings menu. [/note] 

Before you fly:

  • GPS will be required for scans higher than 65 ft (20 m).
  • If needed, you can move backwards and re-do any steps in the workflow. Doing so will reset the steps you have already completed and discards any media that has been captured. 
  • If you are flying with Skydio X2 Color/Thermal, capturing thermal images is enabled by default. You have the ability to disable thermal image capture in the camera settings. 

To use 2D Capture:

Move through the scan workflow using the Skydio 2/2+ Controller or Skydio Enterprise Controller. The workflow pane will collapse when you are prompted to manually fly and the app will display available Controller shortcuts.


Step 1Select Scan Mode

  • Select 2D Capture
  • Use the right shoulder button to select Begin

Step 2 - Name Scan Site (optional)

The default scan name is composed of the scan mode you select followed by a UTC timestamp. Renaming the scan will replace the scan mode. 

  • Ex: 2D_Capture__2021-05-20T19-50-55.135854+00-00

[info] Scan names must use American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters. Unicode characters such as à, é, â, ü, ö, ä and the following symbols will be converted to underscores (_) in the scan directory name: < > : ; , \\ | ? * & $ { } ` “ [/info]

Step 3 - Launch

Select and hold the LAUNCH button to begin your flight. The drone will automatically climb to 6.5 ft (2 m) and hover.

Step 4 - Set Rally Point

Once the scan completes, you will have the option to return to the Rally Point. Skydio will also return to the Rally Point when the battery level is low or the drone loses connection.

Use Launch Point - the drone will return to the launch location instead of a manually set Rally Point.

Set Manually - allows you to manually pilot the drone to a new location.


Tips for setting a Rally Point:

  • The Rally Point should be in your line of sight with a clear path to the Launch Point. 
  • Set your Rally Point close to the scan region so that the drone can safely and easily return to that point autonomously. Even if you change position during the scan, the drone will always have a point to return to safely without obstruction.
  • Choose a location that is safe for landing

Step 5 - Set Scan Surface

The Surface defines the bottom of the area you wish to scan. It will also define the bottom of your reconstructed model in the Edge Model Viewer.

There are two ways to begin setting the Surface:

Use Launch Height starts the Surface at 0 ft (0 m) below the launch height.

Set Manually starts the Surface at the current height of the drone.

Once selected, adjust the Surface as desired:

  • Pilot the drone and the Surface will automatically move with the drone as you fly
  • Drag the orange Surface AR to the desired height 



The Launch Height is represented by a light gray AR plane.

Done – sets the Surface in your desired location and proceeds to the next step

Center Surface – moves the location of the Surface to the current altitude of the drone

Level Gimbal– moves the camera gimbal pitch to 0°

Step 6 - Set Boundaries

Set AR pillars to encompass the area to be scanned. The pillars bound the area laterally. It will also define the lateral area of your reconstructed model in the Edge Model Viewer.


A minimum of three pillars must be set to create an area boundary.


There are two options when setting pillars: 

Fly to the desired location and use the right shoulder button to select Set Pillar. Continue placing pillars to encompass the entire structure. By default, pillars are attached to the drone. The edges of the polygon defined by the pillars must not cross each other.


Set Pillar – Adds a new bounding pillar
Remove –
Removes the previous bounding pillar
Done –
Completes this step and finalizes pillar placement


Fly to place pillars 

[tip] Try adjusting the angle of the gimbal for a better view of where you are placing pillars. [/tip]

Drag Pillars by holding the base of the yellow AR Pillar on-screen. This selects the active pillar and enables dragging. You may continue to set pillars by dragging or reconnecting the pillar to the drone by selecting “Attach.”

Set Pillar – Adds a new bounding pillar
Done – Completes this step and finalizes pillar placement
Attach – Reconnects the pillar to the drone
Remove – Deletes the previous bounding pillar


Drag to place pillars

[info] Only the current active pillar may be dragged. [/info]

Step 7 - Set AR Observer

The AR Observer allows you to set the point of view from which you can observe an augmented-reality view of the scan progress.

When you set your AR Observer point, the drone will take a static image from that position.

There are two ways to set the AR Observer:

  • Review Suggestion means Skydio will fly to the ceiling of the pillar closest to the takeoff position. The drone will then face the structure (the centroid of the AR polygon-prism).
  • Set Manually allows you to manually pilot the drone to your preferred vantage point, using the Skydio Controller. If you choose to manually set the location of the AR Observer, ensure you are choosing a spot that provides you with the best situational awareness for monitoring the scan’s progress. Recommendations:
    • Tightly frame the structure and fill the frame vertically or horizontally
    • Select this option if you are scaning around obstacles or in complex environments



ToggleChange_View.pngto switch between the static AR Observer image and the drone’s camera feed at any time during the scan. The AR drone will follow the white lines, which denote the planned flight path and image capture locations. The purple AR lines show the Wall Bounds.

Step 8 - Review or Edit Settings

View a summary of your scan settings:

    • Scan time estimate
    • Number of batteries required
    • Total number of photos

Review your current settings and select Edit Settings to make any adjustments before the scan begins. You must have at least five photos to begin a scan. 

  • Editing scan settings will impact the total flight time, number of photos and the required number of batteries.

In a 2D Capture, the Height is relative to the Surface you set.

To scan the underside of a structure, enable Upward Capture in the scan settings. For added clarity, you may still pilot the drone below the Surface and select Set Height to Current. Read How to scan the underside of a structure for an example use case.

The Geofence option allows you to enable Strict Boundaries that Skydio will not exit while scanning.

Scan settings persist across scans of the same scan mode.



[caution] Do not set your Height Ceiling below your desired scan altitude, as this will impact GSD. [/caution]

Select Edit Settings and tap the Reset button in the top right corner to restore settings to defaults. This will not reset the Crosshatch or Perimeter.

  • To restore the Crosshatch or Perimeter settings to default, tap either Crosshatch or Perimeter and select the Reset button in the top right corner of the screen.

If you enable the Perimeter setting, you have the option to specify the number of photos taken.

  • Default: 36 photos
  • Minimum: 20 photos
  • Maximum: 80 photos




[info] The camera gimbal pitch represents the angle below the horizon. [/info]

Step 9 - Scan

Select Begin Scan. On the live camera feed you will see AR markers showing the scan capture points.

Your scan may require using several batteries to complete. For more information, read How to scan using multiple batteries. 

Status_Off.png Optionally toggle on the AR Coverage Mesh during your scan to monitor the photo coverage progress of the scan. 

pause.png Pause at any point during your scan. Use the left shoulder button or tap this icon in the workflow pane to pause scanning. Skydio will display how many photos have been captured. While paused, you have the option to manually capture photos using the right shoulder button. 

play.png Press the play icon or use the left shoulder button to resume autonomous scanning. Use the right shoulder button during a scan to Skip the next capture point.

Obstacle Avoidance is set to Standard—and cannot be changed—when Skydio flies autonomously. If you are manually piloting the drone, you have the option to adjust your obstacle avoidance setting within the Device Settings menu.

[caution] Skydio obstacle detection does not detect moving objects and is disabled during landing. Review the Skydio Safety and Operating Guide for more information. [/caution]

Step 10 - Scan Complete

Upon completing the scan, Skydio will automatically fly laterally to the Launch Point at the scan Height.

  • Skydio will first fly laterally until it is above or below the chosen point and then move vertically to reach it
  • When it reaches the Launch Point, it will descend until it is 16 ft (5 m) above the Launch Point
  • You will have the option to start a new scan, save the scan, or discard the scan you just completed

Select Save to ensure that the media is grouped by scan and is available in the Skydio Edge Model Viewer.

Wait for your drone to complete all post-flight tasks.



[caution] Do not remove the battery or power off during any post-flight tasks. Doing so will result in loss of data. Do not power off or disconnect from the drone until you return to the Begin Flight screen. [/caution]

[caution] With strict geofence enabled, the drone will stay within the scan area during data capture, but not necessarily during transit to and from the Launch Point. [/caution]


Explore More

Explore related articles for additional information

How to scan using multiple batteries

3D Scan Settings Overview

Visual Geofencing in 3D Scan

How to use the AR Coverage Mesh for 3D Captures

How to set the AR Observer in 3D Scan

Accessing 3D Scan Data


 Skydio, Inc. A0125


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